Facing Wearing Your Face Mask

As we begin to return to working on campus one of the adjustments we will be making is in wearing face masks. Face masks, considered by many to be physically and socially uncomfortable and limiting, play an important role in increasing the safety for all of us. We are all at different levels of comfort or familiarity with mask wearing. Below are some thoughts to consider that may help support your transition to wearing a mask.

  • Our thoughts can drive what we feel and how we act and react. So, consider your thoughts about wearing a mask and think about the change in culture that is occurring and the role you are playing in keeping yourself and others safe. Coaching yourself in this way can help reduce some of the anxiety and frustration that you may be experiencing.
  • Consider that research suggests it takes, on average, more than 2 months before a new behavior becomes automatic — 66 days to be exact. And how long it takes a new habit to form can vary widely depending on the behavior, the person, and the circumstances.
  • You WILL adjust to being able to wear a mask. Although it may take differing amounts of time to do so, you will find that you will make the adjustments physically, emotionally, and socially to wearing a mask.
  • Know that it is normal for someone to feel anxious when wearing masks.
  • If you feel like your mask is suffocating you, the first thing to know is that chances are you’re not actually short of breath, even if you feel like airflow is restricted. You may just need some time to get used to the feeling of something covering your mouth and nose.
  • Wear your mask more often to get used to it. Before even wearing it out, wear it around your house. Start with wearing the mask for five minutes.  Then, slowly increase wearing times in 5 minute intervals. 
  • Try to change your focus from the small discomforts by coaching yourself with statements like "I am doing this so I can be well," "I am doing this for a good reason," "This won't last long and I can tolerate it," or "This is something that I have control over".
  • When you encounter someone who is not wearing a mask or practicing physical distancing and want to say something to them, a tip to consider is what and how you wish someone would approach your if you were in that situation.
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